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Friday, September 30, 2011

How Facebook killed the social dumb phone

Well, once upon a time there was a Java application that could do miracles for people who didn't own a smartphone. This application was not only a great Facebook and Twitter client, but a Weather, Movies and many, many more.

This application was called Snaptu, and it worked on virtually every phone in the world, being a MIDP 2.0 application.

For those of you who didn't have the pleasure to meet Snaptu I have to tell you that it was more than an app. It was a platform on top of which small apps were running. The small apps got updated on the fly(yes without having to install some update) because of the genius idea behind Snaptu.

So, this application was growing fast, and people were using it and spread the world about it everywhere. So a big bad idea-stealing-youngest-financial-mammoth wolf caught wind of this app, and thought "Why don't I buy this app and kill two birds with one stone?"

And so he did. The big bad wolf bought Snaptu and killed it's spirit. It turned Snaptu into a Facebook only app, killing the Twitter client for the masses. Did the big bad wolf win anything from this? Maybe so. But this kind of move against Twitter is IMHO as low as you can go.

Ain't that right Zuckerberg?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nokia cuts 1900 jobs by closing factory near Cluj, Romania - Who's fault is it?

Well, Nokia announced that it will close the Romanian factory near Cluj, by the end of the year. The people who lost their jobs will get a compensatory retribution for 3 months pay. The syndicate from the Romanian factory have no one to thank to by their own government who cut all fiscal facilities for every major manufacturer that invested in this country including Nokia, Ford and many, many more companies.

By adopting the new Labour Code this year, the government practically allows any employer to fire any employee at their disposal. The biggest problem is not this, because every company in it's sane mind, wouldn't fire hard working people.

The main problem is that the once the world wide financial crisis hit, the Romanian government has cut all fiscal facilities that were granted to the foreign investors, including Nokia.

So suddenly Nokia found itself paying 16% more for the same profit, which inevitably leads any company, not just Nokia to trying to find cheaper workforce. That cheaper workforce is found in Asia, and so another big company leaves Romania. Maybe if Ford will leave too, the government will come into their senses and try to attract foreign investors again.

So, is this Nokia's fault? In my opinion, No!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nokia Store running on Nokia E6

So, yesterday I checked out a video from Mike Macias showing the new Nokia Store running on the Nokia N8. I quickly went to the Nokia BetaLabs website to download it for the E6 I got on trial(courtesy of WOMWorld). But I saw the E6 wasn't on the supported phones list. I was a little disappointed to see that, but I hit the download link anyway, expecting to see a "Sorry, this is not available for your device" message. Instead, the website somehow detected the phone as a X7(probably because of the X7 I got for trial last time), and allowed the download.
So the app installed without a problem, and works flawlessly(except for D-pad navigation). The application is much faster now, and has fixed some of the annoying bugs from the Ovi Store app. It has an updated user interface, in line with the current Symbian Belle user interface. So here is a video with the app running on the E6:


Monday, September 26, 2011

Nokia E6 review - Connecting two worlds

It was a while back that I received my first Nokia candybar Qwerty phone from the nice people at WOMWorld, the E5 and it quickly turned me into a fan of the form factor and of the phone's itself. Today however the game changes. Don't get me wrong, the E5 is still very close to the E6 at the top of my list, but there are things that the E6 can do that the E5 or any other Qwerty phone cannot.

Some of these things are the screen resolution 640x480 pixels, which is the highest available on this form factor, and most important, the camera. HD recording and 8MP photos are hard to come by in this class. I sometimes miss the soft keys of the E5 but I think this is just a matter of adjusting.

Another thing that makes this my favorite Qwerty is the fact that it combines business class with entertainment to a level I've never seen before. This phone has played back every video file that I threw at it, and, you can play Angry Birds on it too.

On top of the phone you can find the power key, the 3.5mm jack port, and (strangely) the SD card slot. On the left side we only have the USB port. On the right, we have the volume rockers, the voice command key, and the unlock knob. On the bottom we have the Nokia pin charger hole.

The phone has a VGA front facing camera for video calls, which is visible on the top of the front panel, next to an array of sensors.

The E6 screen in protected by a layer of compressed Gorilla glass.

The phone is equipped with a 680MHz ARM11 CPU spiced up with a 2D/3D GPU. On the RAM side, it has 256MB, fully capable of running Symbian 3 without breaking a sweat. The OS is hosted on a 1GB ROM, leaving enough room to install upcoming Symbian iterations.

The 8MP camera is based on EDoF technology, also known as Full Focus. The pictures are snapped very fast, and they are very well balanced. It's a bit hard to take a steady shot, because of the form factor. The camera records HD video of 1280x720px at 25 FPS.

Unfortunately the social client is not very well optimized for D-pad navigation, but there's always Gravity around if you're willing to pay for it, or Socially for free. You can also choose the official Facebook client, and use a different software for twitter, like Tweets60.

The hardware shortcut keys can be configured to launch 2 apps each(except for the home key) so you can easily have 6 of your favorite apps launched in a heartbeat.

The hardware keyboard is excellent. I rarely had a mistype. I have to say that if you are used with a non touch Qwerty bar, you're gonna have to get used to do things without softkeys. You'll have to use the touchscreen instead. I love touchscreens as well as Qwerty bars, but there is one thing that I absolutely detest about touchscreens: they're useless while driving.

However smart the voice recognition software is on touchphones, there is still some glitch that drives you up the wall. I have to stop all the time and take a call, or call my wife. But, just as the E5 before it, the E6 comes to the rescue. You can call someone without even having to look at the screen. You just use the unlock knob, start typing the name you want to call, and press the call key. It's that easy. This was one of my favorite thingies on the E5 homescreen, and I am glad the E6 inherited that one.

The voice command key is lower than the volume rockers, so you won't confuse the volume keys. Also it helps locating the voice command key easier.

A very neat thing that I noticed was that along with the keyboard, the volume rocker and voice command keys light up too, so they are very handy in the dark. Unfortunately the E6 does not charge from the USB port like it's Symbian 3 brethren, and that can be a hassle if you're on the go and can't find a Nokia pin charger(highly unlikely though).

However, the battery life is excellent. I went 2 full days on a charge with heavy use. I guess it's because of the smaller screen that doesn't eat up that much power as a 4 incher for example. I found the ambient light sensor a bit too sensitive, changing the backlight instantly even when not necessarily needed. There may be a setting for this sensitivity, but I could not find it.

The E6 has a split personality, in a good way. During work hours it works as a perfect business phone, and when at home it becomes a perfect family man phone with it's 8MP camera and HD video recording. I do not know any other phone that can do both this tasks in this price range. Most people that need a business phone carry two phones, one for business and another personal phone, but the E6 fills both roles successfully.

Symbian Anna seems to be a perfect fit for the E6. I did not experience any lags at all in the two weeks I had this phone with me. Nokia managed to modify the homescreen so that it shows three fullsize widgets alongside the system widgets for Profiles, Clock and Notifications.

There is not much to say about the software, pretty much everything is the same as the Nokia X7 I already reviewed, besides the games. The E6 has no games preinstalled whatsoever. Being an Eseries phone it is somewhat expected. That doesn't mean you can't install our own if you want to.

There are user interface changes because of the non-standard resolution of the E6, but every app looks like it's running in landscape mode(which is exactly what happens), so for those of you who are familiar with Symbian 3, you should feel right at home.

The web browser acts better than it did one the X7, so there is no need now for Opera Mini as a substitute browser.

The phone has 8GB of memory onboard, which should be enough for most people, but if you like to record HD videos a lot, you should consider a bigger SD card to expand your memory. The HD video tends to eat up the available memory pretty fast.

So, if you're looking for a business phone that is small enough to carry in your pocket, that can shoot a decent picture and record HD video, this is the phone for your. On top of that you can also play touch games on it, even if it will feel weird the first time.

This phone is a very well deserved upgrade for E5 and E72 lovers.

Why "Connecting two worlds"? Because the E6 combines touch and hardware QWERTY seamlessly into one package. Because it connects the business world with the entertainment world.

P.S. I have to mention, that again, just like I did with the E5, most of this review was written on the device itself.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nokia E6 unboxing

When I received an email from Paul back at WOMWorld/Nokia I could hardly wait to get my hands on the Nokia E6. A few days later when it arrived, I was thrilled. I have repeatedly admitted that I am a full QWERTY candybar fan, with the Nokia E5 being my favorite till now.

Why I like the E6 better? First of all, because it has a touchscreen. Second, because it has twice the resolution of the E5, and third and most important, because of the camera. HD video and 8MP snapper is hard if not impossible to find on this form factor, but the E6 has got it.

Using the E6 this past few days I remembered how to use the unlock knob(I love unlocking my phone with such ease), how to search my contacts from my homescreen by simply starting to type a name, how to use hardware call keys, aaahhhh, what memories.

The phone is very snappy, and I would have expected it to be less snappier than it's big screen brothers, because this little guy has a higher resolution.

The display is crisp and clear, and the sunlight legibility is just amazing. I wasn't expecting to find so many apps for the E6, because of the resolution, but my doubts quickly disappeared when I started Ovi Store. Most apps are there, already adapted for the E6. Not all of them, but the vast majority is there.

So, here's my unboxing and a brief user interface tour video:


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Motorola Milestone - How to make the best of it - What really matters

Well, I thought that my last post about custom ROMs for the Milestone would be the last in the series, but as you can see it is not. The custom ROM I have installed led me to another problem, low RAM that is. So while I recommended to everyone to keep their launchers in memory at all times, I realized that you can't take full advantage of the low RAM of the Milestone in this case. So I sought out a resolution to this problem. After giving up some stuff like homescreen widgets I finally managed to achieve a setup that will allow you to take full advantage of the RAM.
The homescreen widgets are memory hogs, and not just that. They also cause slow start on any homescreen I've tried so far. My goal was to have a homescreen setup that will allow the homescreen app to load very quickly after it has been closed. So now my setup is the following: two or three pages of the homescreen with only contacts and shortcuts.

NO WIDGETS! Very important to remember. So I use either the default MM homescreen or LauncherPro. LauncherPro was the only homescreen app that loaded in 2-3 seconds with this setup after it's closed. I do not have the launcher locked in memory, because I found some apps(Angry Birds Seasons and some others) that need more RAM than it's available. So now, after I run some memory intensive app, the launcher gets killed, but when I return to the homescreen I have it up and running in maximum 3 seconds. As I said before my goal was a very fast loading of the homescreen application, and not how much RAM the app eats while running.

A fast start of the launcher cancels the need to have a low memory homescreen, because now it can be killed at any time and load very quickly when needed. Now I don't know how much RAM LauncherPro eats up, and I frankly no longer care. I am very happy with this setup and have been using it for some days now. I replaced my Twitter and Facebook widgets with shortcuts to the full fledged apps.


Microsoft Apps for Symbian will be available for Belle devices

Well, just when every thought that Symbian is dead and buried, Nokia came up with Belle, which radically changes the user experience of Symbian smartphones.
But two days ago something else happened, something that made me rub my eyes a little. Nokia and Microsoft announced that Microsoft Apps will be available for Symbian Belle devices. The applications will be available in two stages. The first stage will come in Q4 or 2011 and will include Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile, Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast, Microsoft OneNote and Microsoft Document Connection. The second stage will come in 2012 with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint being some of them. This is kind of bad news for the QuickOffice team, since they will most likely lose a great deal of their Symbian customers. Even though Elop announced the death of Symbian, this bunch of much needed apps, seems to say otherwise. I honestly hope that sometime in the near future, Mr. Elop will get up on a stage and announce that they will continue developing and supporting Symbian. The Belle update and these Microsoft apps seem to confirm that Symbian still has a huge user base that just can't be ignored.